New development order for Manston airport site to be used as post-Brexit lorry park comes into force

HGVs previously at Manston Photo Frank Leppard

A special development order designating the Manston airport site for use as a lorry park to cope with possible post-Brexit jams at the Port of Dover came into effect today (January 24).

The order ‘augments’ the deal to use Manston as a short-term solution for Operation Stack which was first struck with site owners Stone Hill Park in August 2015 following a Summer of disruption due to French strikes and growing migrant camps in Calais.

The aim was to park lorries up at the site and so reduce pressure on the M20. The government extended the deal in November 2017 to run until the end of 2019.

The new order extends the deal until December 31, 2020 with additions to allow work on the site to create a new access, add temporary hardstanding and modifications to the new entrance and create lining and signage.

Some £4.9million will be spent on the work which will increase capacity at the site to hold 6,000 – rather than the initial projection of 4,000 – lorries.

The order follows a trial run of less than 90 HGVs earlier this month from Manston to Dover as part of Kent County Council and the Department of Transport’s Brexit contingency plans.

Photo Frank Leppard

A Traffic Management Plan has been created to ensure Kent’s highways continue to be open in the event of queuing traffic arising from border changes following the UK’s exit from the European Union on March 29.

It has been forecast that, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Kent will need to cope with holding up to 10,000 HGVs on a routine basis.

The special development order signed by the DfT  Minster of State Jesse Norman was laid before Parliament yesterday.

It includes a  “protester policy” setting out information in relation to protesters on the land, including information about criminal offences that may be committed on the land and the mechanism by which matters may be reported to Kent Police.

HGV trial run Photo Kent Police RPU

The order covers the provision of facilities and services for drivers of, and those processing, goods vehicles that will be parked on the site.

The order states: “The planning permission granted by paragraph (1) ceases at the end of 31st December 2020 and immediately thereafter the land reverts to its previous lawful use.”

The order is part of plans for Operation Brock – the updated version of lorry queuing system Operation Stack- which contains 5 phases for dealing with a backlog of HGVs. Phase 1 uses the A20 and Dover and Eurotunnel buffer zones, phase 2 is a contraflow system on the M20, phase 3 uses the A256 and sends up to 6,000 lorries to be parked up on the Manston airport site.

Phase 4 uses the M26 and phase 5 takes traffic out of the county.

An £28.81 million grant from the Department for Transport has been agreed for Kent County Council to pay for preparatory post-Brexit works.

The site

The Manston airport site is currently the subject of a Development Consent Order by firm RiverOak Strategic Partners which wants to gain compulsory buy-out powers over the land.

The firm says it wants to revive aviation at the site with a cargo hub and associated business. But the Manston airport site is owned by Stone Hill Park which has lodged an application to develop housing, leisure and business on the land.


  1. That was quick! Why can’t our so-called government act this quickly upon issues that actually matter to local people? Why isn’t Manston Airport up and running again, for example?

      • Not viable without investment, agreed. But RSP plan to invest half a Billion in the airport, which is more than anyone has ever done before. So, it will hopefully be the life blood of Thanet eventually.

        • RSP don’t have the money.
          In August, when the Planning Inspector allowed RSP’s application to go forward to the Examination Stage, they spelled out in no uncertain terms concerns about the funding: who, how, where, when?
          4 months later, at the initial examination in the Winter Gardens, the Examining Authority again spelled out the need for funding info from RSP: they were given until last week to come up with the answers.
          RSP put in a response before the deadline: but it was waffle about “Restructuing” the Belize company and stuff about “commercial sensitivity”. They hope to have the answers by Feb.
          What have they been doing since August?
          They’re having a laugh. Smoke and mirrors. Obfuscation. Let’s hope the ExA sees the light!

  2. Thank goodness this SDO only last till 31st December 2020. We hope that by this date the DCO applied for by RSP will be approved.

  3. The DCO isn’t for an airport. It is for a cargo hub day and night. No passengers. Let’s see if the examining authority does a better job of making a firm rejection of this loss making plan once and for all and the administration at TDC can find a new obsession to replace loss making dormant airfields nobody wanted to buy when it was up for sale. Still, at least the lorries will mean houses now go on green field prime land Well done. Said nobody.

  4. More than half the public responses to PINS regarding RSP’s DCO application were from people who don’t want an airport at Manston. A different kind of “we”.

  5. Manston was finished as the airfield we knew near on 5 years ago. That has been proven by several aviation reports. The DCO application by RSP is being inspected at present but is for a 24/7 freight airport. 24 hours noise, pollution and mainly automated jobs. That’s no good for Thanet. Where have you people been hiding? It has been all over the news.

  6. 6000 slot lorry park on a site that could provide an extra form of transport infrastructure, after we only did a 90 lorry test? Sure.

    A meaningless station to be built with taxpayer money that provides no benefit to anyone other than to people who do not even live here? Yep, we’ll do that.

    Create a council role that involves desecration of the memorials of the deceased? Who doesn’t want that!

    But, we won’t let you keep green spaces, we won’t fund your buses, then we’ll wonder in 6 months why elderly loneliness rates are up and accessibility is down and we won’t keep public utilities like toilets and the like.

    Only in Thanet, and only Thanet district council.

  7. More desperate plans to cope with Brexit. But why do reporters and pundits keep referring to the problem of “Brexit uncertainty” damaging our current economic state? It’s not “uncertainty”! It’s dead CERTAIN that Brexit will cause damage to our economy, finances, jobs and even our ability to just get around the roads.

  8. Let’s not forget the grassland wildflower meadow surrounding the runways it’s been there supporting the wildlife from first construction of the airport this wonderful natural habitat is now to be decimated for a lorry hardstanding yet to be littered with rubbish and plastic urine filled bottles…my blood boils !!

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